Date of Award
Director of Thesis
The focus of our senior thesis, “Let's Talk Science!", was to increase the exposure of elementary school-aged students to science. In particular, we focused on increasing the students’ opportunity to experience fun science experiments that still presented a strong take-home lesson. In doing this, our goal was to increase the students’ interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers.
We coordinated our outreach program with the Waverly After-School Program, a student organization that operates through the University of South Carolina Honors College in Columbia, South Carolina. Through the Waverly After-School Program, we were able to carry out our senior thesis experiments with St. Lawrence Place. St. Lawrence Place is a facility for families as they make their way from homelessness to home. Many of the families residing at St. Lawrence Place have young children; these children need somewhere to spend their afternoons while their parents are at work. St. Lawrence Place has an activities center that the children visit after they arrive home from school. This grants the children the opportunity to complete their homework and have fun with their peers. Waverly is directly involved in this after-school center; volunteers from the program work with students each day, helping them with homework and reading.
Our goal for developing this science outreach program was to show these kids how fun and exciting science can be, as well as teaching them important scientific concepts. The strategy for the program was initially to visit twice a week (Mondays and Wednesdays) for eight weeks for a total of sixteen different experiments. After three experiments, it was suggested that, instead of doing two different experiments with all of the kids (about 25 in total) in one week, we should divide the kids into two groups (a Monday group and a Wednesday group) and do the same experiment on both Monday and Wednesday. This changed our strategy for the program; instead of doing sixteen different experiments, we would only perform ten. This was a wonderful change to the program as we were able to better assist the kids with their experiments, and it allowed us to have an active discussion about the topic of that day’s experiment. Throughout the course of the program, we asked the kids to write in their laboratory notebooks. This was a great element of the program, because it allowed the kids to process the topics discussed and then put them down in writing.
It was our hope that, by working with the kids for eight weeks, we would spark an interest in STEM-related careers. After we finished our thesis, we reflected on our personal experiences. Furthermore, we asked those that supported us, our partners at Waverly and St. Lawrence Place, to reflect on their experience. While we cannot confirm that we made a student want to become a doctor, we hope that we had a positive impact on the children’s interest in science.
Dave, Krupesh; Malo, Courtney; and Savage, Savannah, "Let's Talk Science" (2014). Senior Theses. 27.